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Departmental Research Contracts

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many research contracts have been let by his Department since May 1997; what is the value of each contract; and in each case whether the contract included (a) a departmental veto over publication of the research results, (b) departmental control over the date of publication of the research results and (c) a requirement that the final research results incorporate departmental amendments. [100160]

Mr. Mullin [holding answer 6 December 1999]: Information about the Department's research programmes is made widely available and includes overview material on the DETR website and details of individual programmes and projects--again on the website and through hard copy reports and Newsletters. Details of each contract are not held centrally, but since May 1997 it is estimated that contracts for around 1,500 projects have been let with a total value of around £110 million. Further details are available through the DETR website and through the Government's "Forward Look SET Statistics"--most recently published by the Office of Science and Technology in August 1999.

In answer to the other points:

    (b) Publication dates are agreed between the Department and the research contractor;

    (c) None. Where final reports incorporate departmental amendments, these are confined to matters of policy and presentation.

Drink Driving

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of media campaigns in reducing the incidence of drink driving. [101918]

Mr. Hill: Drink drive media campaigns aim to stimulate media and public awareness of the message not to drink and drive. They also provide a focus for

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co-ordinated complementary activity by police forces, local authorities and many others in the public and private sectors. Effectiveness is measured on an ongoing basis by:

    behaviour change indicators such as proportions failing breath tests and, over the longer term

    casualty statistics.

The following tables show the reduction in casualties and in the percentage of positive breath tests over recent years.

Fatalities and serious injuries in drink drive accidents 1979-98

YearFatalitiesSerious injuries

(8) Provisional

Percentage of breath tests which were positive/refused 1988-98

YearPercentage positive/refused

Departmental Employees (Disabled People)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of the total workforce in his Department is registered as disabled; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of disabled people in his Department. [102049]

Ms Beverley Hughes: We are acting to encourage the employment of people with disabilities. In this Department the total number of staff with disabilities is 3 per cent.

As authorised users of the Positive about Disabled People (two ticks) symbol, an Employment Service scheme, the Department guarantees interviews to all people with disabilities meeting the minimum criteria for

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the job. DETR recruitment policy highlights the importance of fair and open competition, all adverts placed advertise that the Department is an equal opportunities employer. Guidance is provided to line managers on the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to highlight best practice with regard to the employment of staff with disabilities.

GM Crops

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 8 December 1999, Official Report, column 541W, on GM crops, what research on the impact of GM pollen on wild or feral bee populations his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) received. [102833]

Mr. Meacher: The Department has not specifically commissioned any research on the impact of GM pollen on wild or feral bee populations. However, one member of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) has specific expertise in bees and their behaviour. In addition all information on this topic, which is in the public domain, is available to Department scientists and members of ACRE when considering the impact of GM pollen on wild or feral bee populations in relation to a particular release application.

Care and Repair

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what arrangements are being made to support care and repair initiatives by local authorities not currently in receipt of support. [102823]

Mr. Mullin: The Department currently provides £6.7 million annually to support 184 home improvement agencies under a three year matched funding scheme which began in April 1999. Seven agencies have been established outside the scheme, in partnership with local authorities and other funders, and a further seven are in the process of being established on that basis. The national co-ordinating body, Care and Repair England Ltd, works to expand the home improvement agency movement and to assist the assembly of funding arrangements.

Otterburn Ranges

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent representations he has received from hon. Members opposed to Ministry of Defence proposals for changes to the Otterburn ranges in Northumberland National Park. [102875]

Mr. Raynsford [holding answer 16 December 1999]: Thirteen Members have recently written to the Secretary of State, enclosing letters from constituents opposed to the development and seeking an update on the current position.

Ordnance Survey

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what were the reasons for the resignation of the Director General of Ordnance Survey; what advice he has given

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Ministers as to working relationships between Ordnance Survey and local government; and if he will make a statement. [103135]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Dr. Robinson's decision to resign as Director General of Ordnance Survey was sudden and unexpected. His stated reason for resignation was difficulty in reaching agreement with local government over a number of important national initiatives. Dr. Robinson decided it was time for someone else to lead these issues to a successful conclusion.

The acting Director General has advised me that there are many positive aspects to the relationship between Ordnance Survey and local government. All local authorities have access to, and gain great benefit from, a wide range of Ordnance Survey data through a centralised agreement. Working in closer partnership to realise benefits made possible by recent technological developments does present a significant new challenge for Ordnance Survey and local government. Ordnance Survey remains committed to meeting this challenge and finding practical, co-ordinated ways forward. For example, the Director General of Ordnance Survey has jointly commissioned with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) an independent review of the relationship between Ordnance Survey and local authorities. This review specifies opportunities for developing the relationship, which are now being jointly pursued by Ordnance Survey and IDeA.

For my part, I fully endorse the vision for the future of Ordnance Survey that was articulated by Geoff Robinson. It has also been greeted with considerable enthusiasm by a broad spectrum of members of the geographical information community and is being vigorously pursued by Ordnance Survey staff.

Housing Revenue

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about his plans for housing revenue account subsidy for the year 2000-01. [103633]

Mr. Raynsford: We consulted authorities on our proposals for Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Subsidy for 2000-01 and related issues in November. Having considered the representations made, I have decided broadly to confirm the proposals on which we consulted authorities, subject to one significant change.

I have decided to increase Management Allowances nationally next year by £21 million. This is in addition to the increase of £67 million in Maintenance Allowances announced at the start of consultation.

We are determined to improve the quality of council housing. We are combating years of under-investment in the fabric of the stock. This is the second significant increase in resources for maintenance, following years of standstill. It is the first increase for management in five years. These additional resources will enable councils to tackle urgent repairs and made a real improvement in tenants' quality of life.

We expect councils to continue to increase the efficiency of their housing management, but the additional investment recognises the increasing demands on them to provide quality services and act as a focal point for local

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work to tackle social exclusion, consistent with the recommendations made by Policy Action Team 5 which looked at housing management.

The increases in maintenance allowances and management allowances are in addition to the extra £3.6 billion for capital investment in local authority housing announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in July 1998, following the Comprehensive Spending Review.

We are also making available additional resources of £15 million next year, with a further £15 million in 2001-02, to help authorities introduce resource accounting into the Housing Revenue Account. In addition, we are allocating an extra £12 million over the next two years to help tenants get involved in managing their homes through tenant participation compacts.

Copies of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Determination 2000-01 and related Determinations have been sent to all local housing authorities in England. I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.

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